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How will the democratization of technology affect the IT industry?

Altkom 9 min Read

Democratization of technology is one of the high-profile technological trends that may have a significant impact on the way modern companies operate in the coming years. According to this idea, business and technology leaders, who are expected to innovate faster and faster, and then realize those innovations, will be able to do this with the least possible involvement of IT departments. 

What does this mean for IT itself? What new competencies will business department specialists have to acquire? How will it change the functioning of technology companies (including software houses), which have been the main driving force behind the implementation of innovations? 

Read on to find out:

W jaki sposob demokratyzacja technologii wpłynie na branże IT?

What exactly is the democratization of technology? 

We live in a world dominated by technology. We rarely think about how much advanced equipment and IT we use in our daily (private and professional) duties. Computers, the Internet, communicators, smartphones, navigation are a matter of course for us, although only a few or more years ago they were created with strictly selected recipients in mind. Once expensive – and thus difficult to obtain – technology is gradually becoming cheaper and more generally available, not to mention the increasingly common free access to some solutions. Before our eyes, the democratization of technology is becoming a reality. Year on year, we observe a growing access to technology for an expanding group of people. 

However, technological democratization is also slowly gaining a new, narrower meaning: IT democratization. We’re not only using ready-made and popular technology, created by someone else, we’re also starting to create our own IT solutions on a large scale. For now, admittedly, using some “semifinished products” in the form of, for example, no-code and low-code platforms, chatbots or other simple robots and tools for business analytics (BI), but in the future – who knows? 

“[…] democratization of IT is an approach in which people from business units (Citizen Developers) – without the participation of the IT department (or with minimal involvement of it) create (semi) professional IT solutions that are then used in their daily work.” 

Prof. SGH, Dr hab. Andrzej Sobczak, Warsaw School of Economics 

Democratization of technology in business 

The precursor of this approach to the democratization of technology is primarily business. Especially in the face of a pandemic and accelerated digital transformation, business needs to continuously and smoothly invest in technological innovation. Meanwhile, it struggles with many adversities, including limited access to IT specialists. That is why CEOs, CTOs, CIOs, COOs, CSOs, CMOs and other executives in companies are more and more boldly mentioning that their employees must be able to think like technologists. After all, in order to start using the available solutions, and then gradually change and adapt them to individual needs (including the company’s needs), you don’t need high technological skills. At least not at the start. 

And since technological innovations are no longer available only to IT departments, we will quickly begin to observe changes in the cultures of organizations that have not been strictly associated with technology so far. In the businesses of the future, even a regular employee will have access to the necessary tools (e.g. automation), and one of his tasks will be the skilful use of new technologies in his own workplace. Soon, companies that want to be innovative not just in name-only, will have to do a lot of grassroots work. Because if lower-level employees will not be able to optimize their work or solve problems on their own, the entire company – despite many modern solutions – will still lag behind in many respects. 

[su_service title=”Interestingly:” icon=”icon: user” icon_color=”#bbe2ef” size=”36″]From this perspective, the democratization of technology shows that, in fact, it is a largely pro-employee trend. The technology being created, at this highest level, will be programmed with people without technological education in mind, so it will become widely available to everyone. On the other hand, subsequent solutions will be built by employees who will thus strive to free themselves from tasks that do not require creativity, imagination, empathy or greater commitment. [/su_service]

And although the business will definitely benefit from it in the end (less human error, focused and more efficient employees), the motives to create systems and technologies will primarily improve the quality of work and greater satisfaction with professional development. 

Which technologies are the fastest to democratize? 

Of course, the simplest ones, the implementation of which is easy and the operation is intuitive and does not require any specialized skills. The last few years have seen the growing popularity of, among others, Robotization of Business Processes (RPA), especially in the field of customer service and delivering personalized experiences.  

Creating a basic robot that will answer Internet users’ questions, send e-mails, handle requests and complaints, arrange meetings, make calculations or compare parameters and create offers is no longer something from the world of SF, or a task that can only be performed by a technologically advanced team of developers. Slowly, using ready-made solutions based on machine learning and NLP, employees who have not had any contact with programming before can create their first bots themselves. In this way, they discover the potential behind such activities, and thus increasingly often, more willingly and boldly, they reach for technological innovations that allow them to save time and free themselves from repetitive duties. 

According to the analytical company Gartner, by 2024 over 65% of application software will be created using low-code tools. 

It is worth noting that there is already a large professional group boldly overcoming technological barriers, namely business analysts. For many years, wanting to translate their knowledge into complex IT systems, they were dependent on cooperation with programmers. Low-code tools are more and more often allowing them to create such systems on their own, or actually configure them based on ready-made solutions (certain repetitive programming processes, automated by algorithms). 

What is the future of technology companies (including software houses)? 

If the democratization of technology is progressing, does this mean that all kinds of IT specialists and technology companies – including Software Houses – should feel threatened in some way? After all, the ability to code is a huge advantage on the job market today, and IT services are among the most desirable. Can technological dissemination take away several competitive advantages from Software Houses and reduce the differences between business and IT employees? 

We can assume that in the years to come, business will actually start to massively use all low-code technologies and solutions that automate/robotize processes. Ultimately, this is to relieve IT departments from working on the development of systems (at least partially) and to accelerate the introduction of innovative solutions to the company. Theoretically, translating some responsibilities from developers onto “ordinary” employees might pose that risk that, on the professional market, the former will no longer be as attractive as before. 

In fact, however, there is still a shortage of IT specialists on the market, so the progressive democratization of technology may begin to fill this gap to some extent. Relieved specialists will be able to devote more time to more complicated duties and self-development, and the market will slowly start to normalize. Over time, it may actually turn out that some IT-related professions will become less useful and the demand for such employees will decrease. Let us not forget, however, that the democratization of technology for the time being includes the creation of simple solutions that emerge on a more complex basis. There will still be a need for people working at the top, creating and maintaining applications that will be used by others. 

IT departments will not be forgotten quickly, either. The fact that lower and middle level employees will start to use technological innovations more efficiently will not prevent the summit itself from reaching for newer and more complex technologies that require specialist knowledge. 

The near future of Software Houses will look similar. Perhaps some of them will develop more towards SaaS, providing ready-made applications on which others will work. In addition, it can be concluded that the democratization of technology will allow for even better and more efficient work by interdisciplinary teams, consisting not only of people with strictly technical or analytical education, but also legal, marketing, graphics and sales. In this respect, Software Houses can pivot towards expanding their offer and comprehensive work on the development of systems and applications (from the product discovery process to implementation in the cloud, advertising and sales on behalf of the client). 

[su_service title=”Expert says:” icon=”icon: user” icon_color=”#bbe2ef” size=”36″]“Democratization of technology is a natural trend that has been going on for a long time. In the past, computers were available only to a small group of engineers, whereas now they are widely used in business and at home. The same applies to software, which is becoming more and more available to users who are able to use it or build the solutions they need without technical support. This will not reduce demand for the work of programmers, because solutions will still be prepared that will be more and more accessible to fit them in specific applications. Certainly, the work performed by Software House will move towards base solutions, creating specific solutions in the SaaS model, creating components or building platforms that allow users to put together solutions that meet the specific needs of a given business.

From the Software House perspective, programmers’ work today also looks different than 10-20 years ago. We use an increasing number of framework solutions (frameworks), ready-made libraries and cloud services, thanks to which we create advanced solutions faster that are more accessible to users who are not IT specialists ”.

Adam Lejman, President of the Management Board of Altkom Software & Consulting [/su_service]

IT without IT involvement? 

Will the demand for IT specialists completely disappear? Certainly not anytime soon. The competences and scope of duties will change, but this is a process that has accompanied the industry for years. Perhaps in the more distant future, most occupations will decompose and we will approach the issue of education and work in a completely different way. However, at the moment, from the Software House’s perspective, we are learning a lesson for the near future. 

 The trend of democratizing technology clearly shows: people create technology, and they do it with other people in mind. This shouldn’t be forgotten, because business needs are fulfilled by the hands (and heads) of employees and customers who will use this technology.